Cape Town centenarian shares five secrets to a long life

Ma Agnes Bezuidenhoudt celebrates her centenary. Picture: Robyn Dirks

Ma Agnes Bezuidenhoudt celebrates her centenary. Picture: Robyn Dirks

Published Sep 20, 2021


CAPE TOWN: A Cape Town woman, who celebrates her centenary, has five secrets to a full and prosperous life, and her entire family lives by it.

Agnes Bezuidenhoudt was inundated with gifts and well wishes, as she celebrated her 100th birthday on Monday.

Bezuidenhoudt, originally from Kimberley, currently resides in Kenilworth with her youngest of five children.

She and her late husband moved to Cape Town 50 years ago.

While she may be 100 years old, Ma Agnes is still as humorous and witty as she has ever been, and her love for her family knows no bounds.

She has 15 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.

Ma Agnes Bezuidenhoudt, who celebrates her 100th birthday, has been described as a regal, stylish woman, who never left the house without her pearls. Picture: Robyn Dirks

During her earlier years, she worked in a factory where ammunition was made for the navy. She also initially started as a volunteer to the Western Cape Blood Service, eventually working full-time, and she retired after 20 years, at the age of 75.

Speaking to IOL, Ma Agnes’ daughter, Mercia Bezuidenhoudt, 65, says while her mother might be getting frail in stature, she continues to grow wiser by the day.

“I am the one who sees to my mother and she still has wit, a sense of humour, and she’s extremely smart.

“She reads without spectacles. She uses a smartphone. The only ailments she has is arthritis in her knee and she has hypertension. But she takes her medication religiously and, with every tablet, she says a prayer. My mom prays over everything,” Bezuidenhoudt said proudly.

Ma Agnes and her great-granddaughter Robyn Dirks. Picture: Robyn Dirks

She joked it would take them two weeks to open all the gifts her mother has been showered with.

Due to her birthday falling on Monday, the family held an intimate gathering in celebration of Ma Agnes, where local celebrity Salome sang to her.

To celebrate her life, the board of the apartment where Ma Agnes has been living since 1993, commemorated her by erecting a bench in her honour and a plaque stating she is an inspiration to all.

When asked about iconic phrases her mother uses, Bezuidenhoudt laughed and said there were two that came to mind.

“On top of the world, like a rose on the bush” and “as sure as the Lord made little green apples”.

Bezuidenhoudt said, to celebrate her birthday, Ma Agnes visited her husband’s grave.

Ma Agnes was commemorated with a bench in her honour. Pictured here are her great-great-grandaughters eight-year-old Kacey and four-year-old Kyler Dirks. Picture: Robyn Dirks

The love of her life, who she was married to for 56 years, died in 1976.

“They were a real regal couple. They were always matching in outfits and my father was the type of man who is extremely rare today – a true gentleman,” she said.

She described her mother as a regal, stylish, smart woman, who always wears her pearl necklace and earrings, even to the hospital.

A woman who only used Clinique’s Aromatic perfume.

Bezuidenhoudt said she is grateful to still have her mother around and has been extremely protective of her during the last few years, even more so during the pandemic.

“We both went for our jabs too. First on July 25, and then on August 9. My mom was very sad when we got news of people we know passing away due to Covid-19,” she said.

But, there is one secret the family is letting out of the bag, and it's become their motto.

According to Ma Agnes, the secret to her long life is five things: “Live one day at a time. Thank God every day. Live life to the full. Live healthy, and live happy”.

We all could learn these wise words from Ma Agnes, especially during these unprecedented times.

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